Papillon de la nuit (moth) is one of Ron Haselden’s most ambitious projects in a recent series of sculptures realised within the rural landscapes of Brittany. In the grounds of the Manoir des Guérandes, two vast planes of coloured woven cord, totalling one hundred metres in length, stretch out as tilted wings, slowly rising to a height of four meters above the ground. Their forms are similar to isometric architectural drawings, that when translated into performative installations negotiate the line of sight and the angles of perspective. Sunlight reflects and plays across the blue surfaces in its passage east to west, shadowed only by clouds and oak and chestnut trees. This is echoed at night by the moon’s own passage, cooling the light that bathes the installation’s extensive planes, and providing a pattern for the arc of the Papillon’s wings. Visitors are encouraged to enter through the many criss-crossing grassy pathways below, where the complex supporting structure of mild steel rods encapsulates pockets of vegetation, allowed to grow wild. These provide much interest from the assortment of butterflies, bees and small animals abundant in the garden’s microcosm of Breton wildlife.
With thanks to Cristine Benadretti, Paul Bienvault, Christine Demotes, Francis Haselden, Saïna Heshmati, Valentine Klaasen, Gillaume Lissillour, Anaïs Moureau, Matthew Reeves, and the de Segogne family.
Haselden is also exhibiting as part of ‘Ulysses, l’autre mer’, the 30-year celebrations of FRAC Bretagne. His work can be viewed at FRAC Bretagne in Rennes and concurrently in Stiff on the Isle of Ouessant between 17 May and 25 August 2013.
About the artist
Ron Haselden is one of Britain’s most widely acclaimed site-specific sculptors, with a career spanning six decades. At the age of seventeen, Haselden was awarded an Andrew Grant scholarship to study sculpture at Edinburgh College of Art from 1961-66. He went on to teach the subject in the Department of Fine Art at Reading University, before founding the mixed media specialism there in the early seventies, and has also tutored extensively at Chelsea and the Slade. He became an active part of the Expanded Cinema movement in the same period, and has consistently spearheaded the use of innovative and alternative materials throughout his career, from reclaimed shipwrecks, LEDs and digital circuitry, to scaffolding and trawlermans’ cord, the last of which he has utilised for over a decade. His recent and ongoing series of large-scale site-specific installations encompass both rural and architectural projects both in England and France. Many engage closely with local communities or ostracised groups within society, such as Nine Men Drawing, in 2009, which saw the artist collaborate with prisoners at HMP Durham. The project culminated in the translation of the inmates’ drawings into large-scale light-works that were displayed within the cloisters of Durham cathedral during the city-wide festival Lumiere. More recently, the artist has worked with large groups of children from many of London’s schools, turning their drawings into animated light-works that now adorn several sites along the Regents Canal.
Along with artists such as Barry Flanagan and Anthony Caro, Haselden has consistently challenged the orthodoxy of post-Victorian British sculpture since early on in his career. Fundamental to his practice is the move from the plinth to the landscape as the site of display, deriving work from its intended surroundings and refocusing its meaning to include the contingencies of its context. Structure, substance, and space are key features of his practice, and subjects he constantly explores through the specific qualities of his chosen media. His important influence on British sculpture and installation over the past six decades cannot be overstated, and has been acknowledged globally through the many grants and awards the artist has received throughout his career, including from The British School at Rome, The Arts Council of Great Britain, The Hamlyn Foundation, The Elephant Trust, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The London Arts Board, The Henry Moore Foundation, The British Council, The RSA Art for Architecture Award Scheme, Alliance Française, Conseil Général Côtes d’Armor and le Fonds Régional d’Arts Contemporain (FRAC) de Bretagne.
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